Smart Infrastructure Ideas from Smart Girls

Everybody knows our nation’s infrastructure needs help. From third graders to high schoolers. And they have some cool ideas.

Here are the winning essays from the 2018 EngineerGirl competition hosted by the National Academy of Engineering. The contest asked students in grades 3 to 12 to pick an infrastructure system in their community and write about how the system could be improved.

The infrastructure systems were divided into categories: transportation, water treatment, energy, public safety, communication, financial security, health care and recreation. Prizes were awarded to students based on grade level.

engineering girls“It is always inspiring to see the ideas and solutions young people come up with to fix our infrastructure problems. When you read the essays of these potential future engineers, you can’t help but feel our world will be in good hands. A hearty congratulations to the winners!” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr.

The essay contest was sponsored by Chevron Corp. and the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology, and Science. Awards are $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place. Certificates are given for honorable mentions.

View entire list of winners:

aditi gokhalePiezo-Powered Self-Healing Roads

Aditi Gokhale, First Place, Grades 3-5
Engineering For Your Community Essay Contest, 2018

Dear Mayor Smith and Members of the Scotch Plains City Council,

I have lived with my mom and dad in Scotch Plains for the past two years and we think this is a wonderful place to live. I think our town could be even better if we had nicer roads. Recently, I was with my family and we were going to the grocery store. Suddenly, my mom’s car got a flat tire. When the AAA truck came, they told us that potholes in the street can cause accidents.

When we got home I did a bit of research and found out that potholes are a big problem all over New Jersey. In fact, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 38% of our roads need repair. Our roads were built in 1950s and today they have reached the end of their useful life. Bad roads cost an average driver in NJ $1951 every year.

Click here to access the entire essay.

cailyn kimTime is Ticking

Cailyn Kim, Second Place, Grades 3-5
Engineering for Your Community Essay, 2018

Dear Health Commissioner and Board of Health Commission,

Last summer, my 11 year old cousin was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. With an enlarged knee, he could not walk, was feverish, and we took turns pushing him in a wheelchair. Luckily, he confirmed he had the disease in time for an effective treatment. Then, we found a tick on our kitchen floor. We were advised to preserve it and just wait for symptoms before testing. Where we live in Massachusetts, Lyme Disease and a more dangerous type of Lyme, called Powassan, are growing. Ticks are no longer confined to wooded areas. They are in our playgrounds, backyards and now, even in our homes. In 2016, Massachusetts had the 2nd highest number of confirmed cases of Lyme (3,646) and the 4th highest for Powassan.

Click here to access the entire essay.

Anvitha Mahankali“BioPro” — Bioswale Maintenance Made Easier

Anvitha MahankaliFirst , Place, Grades 6-8
Engineering For Your Community Essay Contest, 2018

Project Proposal: “BioPro” — Bioswale Maintenance Made EasierProject

Objective: To make the maintenance of bioswales, an environmentally friendly mechanism to filter stormwater pollutants, easier. This, in turn, would ultimately improve the overall storm water filtration process and the environment.

Project Rationale:
Water is a critical part of our lives. We depend on it for so many things; drinking, showers, washing, and many other daily activities. Water is collected, used, and disposed in many ways. Although the disposing of water doesn’t seem like an important issue, it is.

Click here to access the entire essay.

virginia callenSmarter Bridges in Music City

Virginia Callen, Second Place, Grades 6-8
Engineering for Your Community Essay, 2018

In August of 2007, the 40 year old I-35 West bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people and injuring more than 140. The engineers were unaware the bridge was about to buckle, but if they had been alerted of the problem, this crisis could have been averted. The United States has 614,387 bridges making up our roads and bridges infrastructure, four out of ten of which are 50 years or older. In 2016, 9.1% of these bridges were classified as structurally deficient despite the fact that 188 million trips are made across these bridges every day.

Click here to access the entire essay.

Aditi MisraForward with Flywheels- The Energy Storage of the Future

Aditi MisraFirst Place, Grades 9-12
Engineering For Your Community Essay Contest, 2018

Climate change has provided an impetus to use renewable sources for energy needs. In Ontario, wind, solar and water are the three feasible sources of renewable energy, however, these energy sources are intermittent and cannot be relied on to provide for the energy needs of the province. The growing emphasis on shifting to renewable energy sources coupled with urbanization of the GTA requires that Mississauga’s current energy infrastructure undergo drastic and innovative changes to support the increased demand, and fluctuation in said demand of energy. On-grid storage of electrical energy is an innovative solution to facilitate a sustainable, reliable, and efficient energy system.

Click here to access the entire essay.

Roshini BalanDesigning Virginia’s Waste Water Treatment Infrastructure for Greater Resilience

Roshini Balan, Second Place, Grades 9-12
Engineering for Your Community Essay, 2018

Raw sewage, nitrogen, phosphorous, algae bloom, and dead fish seldom make media headlines in Virginia. However, the disturbing frequency and intensity of sewage overflows and spills into rivers is indeed worthy of media attention; the state of Virginia has generally had a sewage spill each month over the past three years. The state’s centralized wastewater treatment plants are stretched to capacity while operating under the pressures of a rising urban population and the effects of climate change.

Many of these plants which were constructed soon after the end of World War II, combine sanitary sewage and storm water in one piping system, therefore prone to overflow during severe weather events. In times of heavy rain or fast melting snow, mixed raw sewage, pet waste, fertilizers and storm water all flow untreated into nearby rivers.

Click here to access the entire essay.

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